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Re: [flame] NEWS file is useless

From: David Chisnall
Subject: Re: [flame] NEWS file is useless
Date: Thu, 26 Nov 2009 01:10:11 +0000

On 26 Nov 2009, at 00:50, Nicola Pero wrote:

I'd be in favour of ditching NEWS and ChangeLog.

ChangeLog has less information, in a less useful format, than the svn logs and is a hold-over from CVS not storing repository-wide change information sensibly. With svn log, you can get a log of change messages at any granularity that you like.

I agree there is an overlap, but there are also some differences. ;-)

Subversion records a single log message for an entire transaction, which might contain changes to a number of files. A ChangeLog entry is supposed to contain a separate log message for every file that was changed.

You realise that svn lets you commit changes to different files separately, right? If you have independent out-of-tree changes, commit them separately (see r29053 to r29055; three commits, all created together but committed separately to provide different log messages).

Finally, the obvious advantage of a ChangeLog is that every source code distribution/tarball will include it. Subversion logs are only
available if you use subversion.

Subversion is available to anyone with access to the svn repository. People can track it by subscribing to the RSS feed from, they can see an individual committer's changes by looking at the timeline on The information is available in a form that is easy for tools to process.

If someone wants to do 'svn log > ChangeLog' when creating the tarballs, they can; just add it to the script you use to generate the tarball. Given that most tarball downloads are likely to be from people who just want to build the code, however, it seems like a waste of space.

I still see your point - particularly for new software, written from scratch by a single person and not yet really released, it is faster to just code it all and write short subversion logs for each commit - it sounds superfluous to also write ChangeLog entries. But once the software is quite finished and stable, is widely used and released, and we're polishing it while being extremely careful not to break things, then a more careful approach where every change is documented in great detail (and even redundantly) looks
good to me. ;-)

Writing a ChangeLog entry does not make you more careful, it just makes you either write duplicate information, or split the useful information between the ChangeLog file and the svn log.

So maybe we could adopt a different approach depending on the project. I certainly think ChangeLogs are very good for the core

I still haven't seen a convincing argument for it. Any of the information that people write in the ChangeLog file they could also write in the commit log. It is impossible to make a commit without writing a log message, it is easy to make a commit without editing the ChangeLog (you could add a pre-commit hook that prevented this, but no one has done so).


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